Mercury Prize 2010 – Staff Picks


The Barclaycard Mercury Prize Awards Show is being held this Tuesday, 7 September in London. The event will feature performances from this year’s shortlisted artists and will culminate in the announcement of the overall winner of the 2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize for Album of the Year.

Always an odd one to pick, the mercury prize is often sullied with controversial decisions on both the nominations and eventual winners and this year looks to be no different, some people are up in arms about Dizzee’s latest album been added and some are wondering why bands like Fuck Buttons and Gorillaz aren’t on the shortlist; which according to the Guardian is possibly due to the fact that “both artists refused to put their albums up for nomination. In 2001, Gorillaz described being nominated as “like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity”.”

Whatever you think about the prize and whether you are one of many who think the award has ‘lost it’s way’ or you sit comfortable in the fact that ‘It’s not the Brit Awards’ and ‘someone is doing something to push good music’; you will undoubtedly be watching the ceremony live on BBC 2 at 10.00pm with an eagle eye.

If you didn’t know already this years full list of nominees are as follows:

Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions
Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea
Dizzee Rascal – Tongue N’ Cheek
Foals – Total Life Forever
I Am Kloot Sky At Night
Kit Downes Trio – Golden
Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Paul Weller – Wake Up the Nation
The xx – xx
Villagers – Becoming a Jackal
Wild Beasts – Two Dancers

We asked around our office to see who the Faux team thought would win the prize awarded by the ever anonymous Mercury judges…


“Usually I find the nominees for the Mercury are normally artists I’d describe as worthy but strangely dull. However this year we have Foals, the XX and Laura Marling all of whom have produced stunning albums. Who I think will win and who I’d like two win however are two very different scenarios. I’d like Laura Marling to win, because her album is timeless and is imbued with such maturity, subtly and depth that its hard to believe somebody so young could produce a body of work so moving, world weary and beautifully melancholic. Mind you I think Wild Beasts might well win it because, well, everybody seems to love them, although personally I find them worthy, but a strangely dull. “


“I’d be lying if I said the Mercury Prize is something I set my calendar for. I’m not usually one for being swayed by wins or nominations. This year, however, I feel a little bit different. Most of the nominations I love, and the ones I don’t, I still don’t mind. It’s one of those line-ups that you’d pay to see at a weird and wacky concert for the masses. I will confirm however, that The xx need to win it. Purely for how ghostly, moody, ethereally left-wing they are. Plus they’re easy on the eye, as well as the ears, and thus they have my ever so slightly materialistic vote – just kidding (but they are good though!)”


“Best nominations in years in my opinion. Wild Beasts deserve it solely on vocal talent and originality. Both Foals and Laura Marling have returned with more complex, better developed albums yet to be fully appreciated in the media. Of course, I will leave the country if Dizzee Rascal wins, Corinne Bailey Rae and Biffy Clyro are anathema to me and I’d better not start on all that is wrong with nu-folk hipsters, mandolins and moustaches IE. Mumford & Sons. This list is made brilliant, however, by the appearance of The xx with their sublime, eponymous debut which is probably the best British album of the century so far and will show up the increasing irrelevance of the Mercury Prize if it fails to win.”


“A mere 18 when nominated for her first Mercury Prize in 2008 off the back of her debut album ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’ Laura Marling has blossomed from a shy young teen into a confident woman producing timelessly classic melodies and lyrics on this years  ‘I Speak Because I Can’. Simply for the progression Marling has shown, I believe she deserves to go home victorious from this year’s event. Plus she dates Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons and I’d hate for him to be the smug cunt who goes home with the award for his broad attempt at music which people actually seem to like; albeit only your mum and dad when they hear it on Radio 2 and say it sounds ‘nice’.”


“I’m going to stick my rather gangly neck on the line here and say The XX.  Or at least, in my own little heart that’s who I’m hoping will pick up this year’s Mercury Music Prize.  I’ll be honest and say that I hadn’t really paid much attention to The XX prior to witnessing them supporting Florence and the Machine at o2 Leeds around a year ago.  Since then, I’ve been hooked and their immense debut album, xx has been constantly on repeat.  Anyone who’s bought or listened to their album can’t possibly disagree… can they?  Please dear god let them beat Paul Weller.”


“I so want to say The XX, but if the history of the Mercury Music Prize has shown me anything, it’s that who I want to win, never wins. I thought ‘The Horrors – Primary Colours’ should have won last year, but Speech Debelle got it. 2008 all fingers were crossed for ‘Burial – Untrue’ but Elbow snapped it up. 2007 should have easily been Jamie T – Panic Prevention, not Klaxons. I could go on & on. If not The XX, then it’s a tie between Foals & Laura Marling, both have produced amazing albums. But this is the Mercury’s anything can happen…….M PEOPLE!!!!”


“I think I’m going to make my bid for Wild Beasts, their sound is truly unique, and that is needed in a world full of singer-songwriters and stereotypical indie bands, some of which are featured in this years nominations. Thorpe’s vocals really are sublime, even if you aren’t a fan of the style and sound you can’t help but admire the quality and individuality, surely? But second choices would have to be either Villagers, giving an interesting twist to the singer-songwriter sound or The XX, showcasing an album which shows that minimalism can  quite often be the right path to choose.”


“The second album from Laura Marling, I Speak Because I Can, turned out to be a much darker record than both critics and fans had expected. The personal and poignant collection of tracks deal with ‘the responsibility of womanhood’, drifting along like a British Alanis Morissette; a smoother and rootsier little pill. Produced by Ethan Johns, the album includes backing vocals from fellow Mercury nominee Marcus Mumford, and though her album hasn’t experienced the same mainstream popularity as Mumford’s folk effort, Marling deserves every bit of recognition she receives. Her raw, real and honest music is something to be universally celebrated.”


“A good list of nominees makes for a pretty tough decision. The xx should probably be favourites to bag the award next Tuesday, and fair play to them, but to be brutally honest they wouldn’t deserve it – Foals and Wild Beasts both have heaps more longevity, originality, and, dare I say it, talent. If this is the year of folk, let it be Marling who takes the prize rather than Mumford, for she surely has earned the slight boost to her profile the award would provide. Unless the judging panel are feeling particularly awkward, Villagers, Kit Downes Trio and I Am Kloot’s chances aren’t promising, though Corinne Bailey Rae could be a decent outside bet. Weller just doesn’t belong here though. And of course, Dizzee’s and Biffy’s efforts are exempt, on account of just being shit. “


“With the nominations this year resembling a mix between this year’s next big things and plenty of commercially successful artists, there is surely only one act deserving of the award. Paul Weller continues to produce innovative and interesting music to rival newer and younger artists. After 33 years in the business, Wake Up The  Nation rivals some of his earlier youthful albums. While many have achieved the feat of being nominated for a second time (Laura Marling and Dizzee Rascal), can you still imagine listening to The XX or Mumford & Sons in 33 years time? Or is that just me?”


“Ok, it’s a bookies favourite, and for many a shoo-in – but it’s not just a load of hype. The xx’s eponymous debut album is subtle, complex, and achingly beautiful – it’s everything a Mercury Prize winning album should be. The shy four piece deliver a sound so hushed and delicate you can’t help but be completely transported. The most unassumingly original album of the last year, and very possibly a worthy winner.”


“Total Life Forever surpassed all of my expectations for a Foals follow-up and despite being one of the hotly anticipated albums of 2010 its modesty and integrity never fail to impress me. Foals make the music they want to make and with Total Life Forever they showed that pressure from their overseers would never change that. The album is like a journey of musical styles and auditory emotions, from the contemplative thoughts of Blue Blood and Spanish Sahara to the sublime funk undertones of Total Life Foreverand Black Gold. The shy inhibitions and cryptic melancholia of Antidotes come spilling out in eleven tracks of heartache and joyous celebration. Total Life Forever shows the progression and maturation of a band that showed glimmers of truly spectacular brilliance on their debut.”


“Every nominee has something about them that is worthy, however, I favour Mumford. Simply for how hard hitting the whole album is lyrically and the sing-along anthems that it has created that are full of grit and passion. Another strong contender is Laura Marling’s second release; it’s darker but still has a soothing sound of folk which is poetically charming. The XX record is deeply melancholic and grippingly beautiful, whereas the Wild Beasts debut is frantic but executed perfectly – but I don’t feel it as a whole. Dizzee, Corinne and Biffy can step aside for the new folk, the new talent 2010 has created alone deserves an award – it’s a tricky decision.”


“When Laura’s not busy breaking the hearts of indie singers up and down the land, she’s spent her time crafting this pop-folk masterpiece. Dealing with Marling’s ‘transition into womanhood’, it’s a marvel that at such a tender age (only turning 20 in February) she can produce such intelligent, sophisticated music. The combination of her gorgeous, haunting vocals with her ethereal folk means that I can’t look past her for the prize; if she walks away at the end of the night without it it will be a travesty. That, and I’ve got a tenner on her.”


“For me, the Mercury Music Prize nominees can usually be categorised as such; the worthy, the wearing, and the ‘weird’. This years worthy are the majority shareholders, represented by the off-kilter, angular indie of Foals, the world-weary folk of both Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling and the ever-so-rightly acclaimed XX. Wearing is just about the only word I can use to describe Dizzee Rascal, who has rapidly transformed from the grime boy-wonder who triumphed over Radiohead in 2002 into an all-consuming pop-rap plague. Sharing this label with him will be Biffy Clyro, who still haven’t appealed to me in the slightest and the ghost of the angry young man that was Paul Weller is most recently memorable for sporting the bleached mullet of a complete dick.

Weird is a loose term for the “outside bet”. The oft-deserving eccentrics that you can’t help but feel are shoe-horned in for a bit of credibility. After all, what credible award ceremony could genuinely consider Burial’s phenomenal Untrue, Bloc Party’s landmark Silent Alarm and Radiohead’s In Rainbows to be in the same league as dross like The Magic Numbers, Simply Red and Athlete?

So it’s not the most credible of yearly events, but a few good bands slip through the net. Besides, there’s always the hope that if Corrine Bailey Rae was to somehow scoop the prize despite being the aural equivalent of a brick of nytol, that she will vanish into the ether, as Ms Dynamite did after her 2002 victory, and re-emerge a few years later as a bona fide Ragga-queen. It’d be funny at least, so for that reason alone, she gets my vote – and who knows, maybe she won’t come back.”